An ink and wash with watercolor painting of a young Japanese geisha seen in profile in her kimono, her hair perfectly coiffed, 10 3/4" by 7 1/4", 15 3/4" by 12" in simple framing, signed lower left "Strasser/Kyoto" and nearby once again "Roland Strasser Kyoto" at center left. This is a fine work by a well-known Vienna-born artist of Basque descent, ROLAND STRASSER (1895-1974). The artist has been called online "the last of the orientalist romantics". From about 1920 through the end of World War II, he experienced much adventure, traveling through remote, dangerous, exotic parts of Asia, all the while capturing remote cultures and regions with his deft sketches. The artist spent the last twenty years of his life in Southern California, where he continued to paint. The young Strasser went to Egypt with his father in 1917, and that trip seemed to spark his quest for exploration of other cultures. By 1920 he was in Siam, and through the rest of the twenties traveled in Java, Bali, New Guinea, China including Tibet, Mongolia, India, and the Himalayas. The prestigious Bernheim Jeune Gallery in Paris held an exhibition of his works as early as 1928. In 1929, the artist spent a year in Kyoto, Japan but that is not necessarily when this was painted. Strasser and his wife were sequestered from the Japanese in a remote part of Bali during the difficult War years. After the war for a period, he lived and exhibited in Australia, before making a final move, to the mild climate of Santa Monica, California in 1954, partly for health reasons. The final twenty years of his life were rather more sedate, compared to the Asia period; he held exhibits in Long Beach and Laguna Beach. Because of the time he spent in Southern California, his works tend to surface here. Strasser's works (generally those dealing with Indonesian subject matter) have sold at major auction to about $80,000. This example almost transcends drawing and painting; there is what appears to be pen work, and the paint is washy, thinned, and appears to have been applied to a very white paper of an unusual texture. There is sparing use of gold paint around the neck; green in her kimono and pink in her hair provides some color in an otherwise monochromatic, elegant work. It is difficult to describe, but there has been some alligatoring/drying of the paint, or paint/varnish combination, or some adverse chemical aging of the material utilized---at lower right quadrant, in the kimono, especially. Ask for more closeup photos of this. Yet one must look very close up to see the tiny losses, which are not an issue at normal viewing distance. Allow for reflections in the glass.
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